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I often see the expression "chances are" used in English. For example:

Chances are that the hammer will break.

I think it is probably a contraction, but a contraction from what?

What the chances are, after all? Are the chances "big"? Are the changes "higher than 50%"? Are the chances "almost 100%"?

What, exactly, are the implied chances when someone says that?

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  • It is just a fancy way to say "I guess", which has the same degree of vagueness. It's an opinion, nothing more. Oct 11, 2015 at 15:20
  • I use it without the "that". "Chances are the hammer will break." Idk maybe I'm dumb. Oct 11, 2015 at 15:20
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    I guess the full formula was something like: The chances are high (that) the hammer will break.
    – rogermue
    Oct 11, 2015 at 17:37
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    Not a contraction but an elision: "Chances are [good]" meaning "the odds are in favor." The probability isn't specified but is greater than 50% by definition.
    – deadrat
    Oct 11, 2015 at 18:21

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The expression simply means it's likely.

I couldn't find any reputable evidence that this is a contraction.

And maybe it isn't. One of the meanings of chance is probability (see meaning 8 on this page, for example.) So chances are basically means it's probable.

The example given at the above link also shows that the expression can evidently be preceded by a definite article:

The chances are that the train hasn't left yet.

Although personally I've always heard it without the definite article. And almost always without that. So:

Chances are the train hasn't left yet.

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